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E01848: Fragment of Coptic Miracles of *Merkourios (soldier and martyr under Decius, S00225), performed at his martyr shrine, punishing a thief and showing mercy on him, resulting in a large donation to the shrine, as well as healing a crippled man; composed most likely during the 5th–7th century.

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posted on 2016-09-12, 00:00 authored by gschenke
K 09456

The saint seems to have punished a thief with blindness who then prays at his shrine for forgiveness. The supplicant’s eyesight is eventually restored, the former thief returns the stolen money and makes a large offering at the martyr’s shrine.

ⲙ]ⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲥⲁϣϥ ⲇⲉ ⲛϩⲟⲟⲩ · ⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲓⲟⲥ ϣⲛϩⲧⲏϥ ⲉϫⲱϥ · ⲁϥⲭⲁⲣⲍⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓⲛ ⲛⲛⲉϥⲃⲁⲗ ⲛⲑⲉ ⲛϣⲟⲣⲡ · ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲏⲓ ⲉϥϯ ⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ · [ⲁ]ϥⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲛⲟⲩⲃ · ⲛⲧⲁϥϥⲓⲧⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲟⲩⲉ · ⲙⲛ ⲧⲕⲉⲙⲏⲧⲉ ⲛⲗⲓⲧⲣⲁ ⲛⲛⲟⲩⲃ ⲛⲧⲁϥⲉⲣⲏⲧ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ · ⲁϥⲧⲁⲁⲩ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲟⲥ ·ⲉⲩⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲙⲁⲣⲧⲏⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ·

‘After seven days, the God of saint Merkourios had mercy on him. He granted him the light of his eyes just as it was before. He (the supplicant) went back home, praising God. He brought the gold which he had stolen and gave another ten pounds of gold which he had vowed (to give) to the shrine (topos) of saint Merkourios as an honour to God and his holy martyr.’

A crippled beggar is brought into the shrine and asks for healing. He remains for a very long time at the topos waiting at the shrine and witnessing many healing miracles, save for his own. Discouraged, he finally has a vision of the saint who tells him how to obtain healing. Joyfully, the man follows the saint’s advice which will bring about his recovery.

ⲛⲉⲩⲛ ⲟⲩⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲛϭⲁⲗⲉ ⲉⲛⲉϥⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ · ϣⲟⲟⲡ [one line missing] ϥ̣ϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ ϩⲁϩⲧⲛ ⲧⲡⲩⲗⲏ · ⲉϥϫ[ⲓ] ⲙⲛⲧⲛⲁ ⲛⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲓⲙ
ⲛⲧⲟⲟⲧⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲃⲏ[ⲕ] ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉ[ⲡⲙⲁ] ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲓⲣⲱ[ⲙⲉ] ⲛⲧⲉⲓⲙⲛⲉ ⲛⲉϥⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲙⲙⲏⲏⲛⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲛϭⲟⲙ
ⲉⲧϣⲟⲟⲡ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲟⲥ · ⲁϥϫⲓ ϣⲟϫⲛⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉϥⲥϩⲙⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϥϣⲏⲣⲉ · ϫⲉ ⲁⲣ ⲧⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛⲧⲁⲗⲟⲓ
ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛϫⲓⲧ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲙⲉϣⲁⲕ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲉϥⲛⲁ ⲧⲁϩⲟ · ⲁⲓⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲅⲁⲣ [one line missing] ϭ̣ⲟⲙ ⲉⲧϥⲉⲓⲣⲉ [ⲙ]ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲙ̣ⲙ̣ⲏ̣ⲏ̣ⲛⲉ · ⲗⲟⲓⲡⲟⲛ ⲁⲩⲧⲁⲗ̣[ⲟϥ] ⲁ̣ⲩ̣ⲛ̣ⲧϥ [ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟ]ⲥ̣ ⲙ[ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲉ]ⲣ̣ⲕ̣[ⲟⲩⲣⲟ]ⲥ̣ · ⲁϥϭ̣ⲱ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲙ̣ⲡⲙⲁ̣ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲁⲩ ⲉϥϫⲓ ⲙⲛⲧⲛⲁ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁϥⲱⲥⲕ ⲙⲡⲉⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲁⲙⲏⲑⲁ · ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁϥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲉⲓϩⲉ ⲁϥⲣ ⲕⲟⲩ ⲛϩⲏⲧ · ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲉϣⲁⲕ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲱϣ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
ⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ · ⲉⲧⲣⲁⲙⲁⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ · ⲙⲁⲣⲉⲓⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲧⲁⲃⲱⲕ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲉⲡⲁⲏ · ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲛϯⲛⲁⲗⲟ ⲁⲛ · [ⲛ]ⲁ̣ⲓ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛ[ⲕⲟ]ⲟ̣ⲩⲉ ⲛⲉⲣⲉ ⲡϭⲁ̣ⲗ̣ⲉ
ⲙⲟⲕⲙⲉⲕ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉϥⲙⲛⲧⲁⲧⲛⲁϩⲧⲉ · ⲉⲓⲥ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲁϥⲟⲩⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲣⲟϥ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩϩⲟⲣⲟⲙⲁ · ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲉϣϫⲉ
ⲕ[ⲟ]ⲩⲱϣ ⲉⲙⲁⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ : - ⲧⲱⲟⲩⲛ ⲛⲅⲥⲩⲣⲁ ⲛⲅⲃⲱⲕ · ⲛⲅⲁⲗⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉϫⲙ ⲡⲙⲁ ⲛⲛⲕⲟⲧⲕ ⲛⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ⲉⲧⲟ ⲛⲙⲡⲟ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲕⲛⲁⲙⲧⲟⲛ · ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥⲛⲉϩⲥⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ϩⲙ ⲡϩⲟⲣⲟⲙⲁ · ⲉϥⲥⲧⲱⲧ · ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ϫⲉ ⲁⲗⲏⲑⲱⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲙⲉⲣⲕⲟⲩⲣⲓⲟⲥ ϫ ϩⲟ · ⲁϥⲧⲁⲗ[ⲟϥ . . .]

‘There was then also a man crippled with respect to his legs, [probably hometown mentioned], sitting by the gate receiving alms all the time from those who went inside [the place]. In this way, this man heard daily from the people about the miracles that took place in the martyr shrine (martyrion) of saint Merkourios.
He took counsel with his wife and his children, (saying): “Be so kind and lift me up and take me into the shrine (topos) of saint Merkourious! Perhaps his mercy will come upon me, for I have heard [of the many miracles and?] wonders which he performs daily.”
So they lifted him up and brought him [into the shrine of] saint Merkourios. He remained in the shrine at that place receiving alms. He prolonged his stay, but no blessing happened to him. Thus, he became faint-hearted, saying: “Perhaps this is not the will of God to let me obtain healing. Let me rise and go home, for I will not be healed.” These things and others, the crippled man considered in his faithlessness.
Behold, the saint Merkourios appeared to him in a dream, saying to him: “If you wish for healing very much, rise and drag yourself, go and climb onto the resting place (grave) of the dumb woman, and you will be relieved (of your illness).”
The man awoke from the dream trembling. He said (to himself): “Truly, Merkourios is aware (of me)!” He lifted [himself up …].’

Text: W.C. Till. Translation: Gesa Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Merkouria, martyr in Egypt, ob. 250/1 : S00225

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Begging

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Healing diseases and disabilities Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Other lay individuals/ people


K 09456 is a parchment leaf belonging to a former codex and is housed at the Papyrus Collection in Vienna. The manuscript is datable to the 9th-11th century. For more information on this parchment fragment visit:


This fragment could have been part of an Encomion presented on the saint’s feast day (see E01861) or have belonged to a collection of miracles recorded at his martyr shrine.


Text and German translation: Till, W.C., Koptische Heiligen- und Martyrlegenden. Vol. 1 (Rome: Pont. institutum orientalium studiorum, 1935), 19–20. Further reading: O'Leary, De L., Saints of Egypt (London: SPCK, 1937), 201–202. Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 145–146.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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